27 November 2013

#IntPiPoMo gratuitous personal pictures

41 Bridge troll says GIMME YOUR SOOUUUULLLL
42 Beautiful Chihuly glass
43 The Space Needle as seen through more glass
44 Japanese garden
46 at Pike Place Market
47 Sunset at the dog park
48 More sunset at the dog park
49 Are you sensing a theme?

23 November 2013

#IntPiPoMo in the Exodar

35 Gurl look at that body
37 How have I never noticed this in the Exodar?
38 I wish more people were excited about the Exodar. It's a really cool idea for a major city.
39 When I get sick I like to start new characters. More importantly, look at my little tree friend raining leaves from his armpits!
40 Ahh, peace and quiet. *sneezes*

21 November 2013

#IntPiPoMo im in ur silver enclave

20 I didn't pay much attention so I don't actually remember your name or significance but could you please step out of the shot?
21 Well golly this sure is nice
22 My goodness look at these majestic statues
23 How festive! This looks like something related to PvP
24 This looks like a gun that a Dalaran mage would appreciate
25 Look at this well-polished and very fancy shield
26 I know we've been over this but I kind of have a thing for the Dalaran stained glass
27 Mmm...Drink it in
28 *muffled screaming*
29 A little slice of the lovely forest in the middle of the lovely city
30 WHAT A VIEW YOU GUYS I hope you Allies appreciate what you have =_=
31 Hello yes I would like to order one million beers please
32 Even the ceilings are painted...y'all fancy humans
33 The tapestry is glittering THIS IS NOT A DRILL

19 November 2013

The Purging of the Sha

Previously: The Masks

Wei grinned at Hadakha, feeling lighter. "Ken-Ken told me that you went to the...the Red Bird Temple," she told him, awkwardly translating into Orcish. "When are the monks coming?"

Hadakha's face pulled into a deep scowl, and Weipon was so shocked at the fluent Pandaren that came out of his mouth that she almost missed the actual words. "There will be no help from the temple."

"Senpai!" Ken-Ken joined in. He rushed to the tauren's side. "No help from temple? Why not? Monks can't be that busy, only burning incense and praying every day."

The druid shook his head sharply, cutting off any further questions. "No one is coming to help." He took in the sight of Weipon and Ken-Ken, covered in gore, and Mei as she tidied up after them. "It seems you have begun without me. Let's finish this."

Rather than split up, they decided to take on the sha together, decreasing the amount of time it took to defeat them and saving them from having to spend more time in contact with the vile creatures. It also allowed Mei to follow them, ushering disoriented, weakened pandaren safely into their homes to rest.

They returned to the place where Weipon had gotten the medicine for Akabeko. The healer inside had moved from her perch behind the counter to an upholstered chair by one of the windows. Weipon brought a mask to her, moving slowly and deliberately with it, but the woman didn't take her gaze from the gray morning light outside.

The mask worked immediately on her, and Hadakha drew the newly formed sha to him with a flash of moonfire, waiting to shift into his feline form until they were free of the cramped space. The pandaren slumped against the chair, looking deathly still, and Weipon motioned for Mei to hurry even as she chased the sha outside. As the trio toppled the monster, Mei rushed to the door, giving Weipon a tortured look.

"She's barely there," she cried. "I can hardly feel a pulse, and her breathing is weak!"

Hadakha quickly shifted back into his tauren shape and strode into the building, incandescent leaves already coalescing around his hands. He gestured once, twice, then nodded in satisfaction, leaving Mei to stand gaping at the rapidly recovering pandaren.

The finally reached Mei's home, and finally some impatience showed through her cooperative veneer. "He's just in his room, laying around," she said, directing them to where Yi-mo was sprawled, lamenting his existence. Without asking, Mei grabbed a mask and held it to her nephew's face, whispering words of comfort.

Yi-mo cried out, batting ineffectually at Mei's hands, but the mask was already taking effect. The sha slipped from him, more wily and energetic than the others had been, and darted deeper into the house. Weipon leaped after it, accidentally upending a decorative lamp in her haste. She landed firmly on top of the sha, feet sliding wetly across its writhing flesh, and began to punch down. When it had stopped moving, she grabbed fistfuls of its oozing, greasy mass and hauled it matter-of-factly outside, where she threw it on the ground in the street. Ken-Ken immediately set upon the stunned sha, followed by Hadakha roaring and charging into the fray.

"What is that...?" 

Weipon turned and was shocked to see Yi-mo standing in the doorway with Mei, staring in horror down at the gore left behind by the defeated sha. He looked completely different, now that he was back to himself. 

Mei answered for them. "It's the same thing that's taken hold of the rest of the village. It made everyone want to lay around and wait for death. Even you tried to..." She stopped and shook her head.

Yi-mo frowned. "I don't remember much of what happened. How long was I under its control for?"

Mei continued to explain, but Hadakha turned to Ken-Ken and Weipon and spoke quietly. "Those sha are draining my strength every time we fight one. I'm guessing it's the same for you two as well, eh?"

Weipon nodded in agreement. They had been fighting for hours, and she was not only physically tired, but also mentally drained from the effects of the energy-sucking sha. She was all too eager to to take a break and wait for her good humor to return. “Let's take some time to get our strength back. Why don't we split up and check the town for any other sha-influenced pandaren we might have missed? We can meet back at the inn, get something to eat, and then take care of whoever is left."

Both of her companions nodded wearily. They left Mei to take care of Yi-mo and split up. Weipon had grabbed one of the mask bags, not wanting any of the remaining pandaren to find it and use it without any of them around to help. She could feel the few remaining masks bumping against her hip as she walked. Considering how few were left, she didn't imagine that there were many afflicted pandaren still waiting for their help. 

There was, however, one other person Weipon knew they would have to test a mask on. Her heart sank and her footsteps dragged as she weaved her way down the streets of the village, looking for possible sha-controlled pandaren on her way to the inn. Finally, having seen no neglected pandaren on her way, she found herself in the doorway of the inn. Barely glancing at the innkeeper, she trudged up the stairs to her room, hand hesitating on the doorknob. 

Once she opened the door, Weipon was assaulted by the stench of rot. She recoiled, gagging, and looked down as Fu darted out of the room, only to hover near the doorway, barking frantically. Weipon quickly shut the door, and Fu began to scratch at it from the outside.

Hands shaking, Weipon backed away, retreating down the hall and standing near a window to soak in the weak light. She couldn't seem to catch her breath. There was definitely something wrong with Akabeko, and she was completely terrified of finding out what. She should have done something, anything, before it could get to this point. She had only come here because Akabeko was guiding her, and now she might be alone. Weipon felt disoriented, disconnected from herself. She sat down heavily, knocking the masks against the wall. Fu crept towards her, staying just out of reach. 

She pulled the bag of masks into her lap, gaze unfocused. Her hands moved of their own accord, pulling out one of them and dreamily raising it to her face. What if...

The smooth wood brushed against her fur, tickling her cheeks. She inhaled, smelling the glue and charcoal that had gone into constructing the mask, but felt no sudden pull, no desire to press the mask against her face until it sucked out the unnatural despair that might be plaguing her.

Abruptly, Weipon let the mask fall into her lap. "That's a relief," she whispered. Fu was suddenly beside her, rubbing his face against her legs until she began to pet him comfortingly. "I guess that means I can deal with this on my own," she told him, earning the first tail wag she had seen in days.

"What are you doing?" Hadakha had come up the stairs and was looking at Weipon with concern. He rushed to her side, taking the mask from her hands. "Weipon? What did you do?"

"I...I tried on one of the masks," she answered honestly, climbing shakily to her feet. Hadakha steadied her, peering into her face inquisitively. "Nothing happened," she clarified.

"You find any more sad pandas, Weipon?" Ken-Ken asked, joining them in the hallway. "Ken-Ken find one sleeping outside in bushes, but Senpai helped take care of him."

"I didn't see anyone else...on the way here, anyway."

Hadakha looked sharply at her. "What do you mean by that?"

Weipon sighed. "I think Akabeko is also afflicted by a sha. The way she's been behaving...if it's not a sha, then I don't have any idea how to help her."

She brought them to her room and pushed open the door. Hadakha wrinkled his nose and immediately instructed Ken-Ken to go downstairs and warn the innkeeper. Fu danced around in agitation, staying barely clear of being underfoot. Hadakha looked at Weipon, noticing her hesitation, and held out his hand.

"Would you like me to do it?” He asked gently. Weipon silently handed him a mask, stepping back in preparation of dragging the sha outside and into the street.

Hadakha stepped over to where Akabeko was laying, completely still, and pressed the mask to her face.

She let out a sound somewhere between a scream and a sob, jerking away from Hadakha, but the mask had already affixed itself to her and was gushing black smoke. For the first time, Hadakha seemed surprised, and stepped away from the bed, hands unconsciously curling into claws. Smoke continued to pour from the mask, filling the room and forcing Hadakha to retreat into the hallway with Weipon. Finally, it began to coalesce, white-hot eyes winking into existence above even the tauren's head.

The sha was so large that it completely filled the room. Hadakha blasted it with a flash of moonfire to get its attention, then followed Weipon down the stairs. She moved quickly, looking over her shoulder in order to watch the sha ooze its ungainly body out through the tiny door. Its shadow flesh stretched and squeezed itself through the doorway, looking briefly rectangular before it reformed into its typical shape. Sure that they had its full attention, Weipon turned and ran, leading the sha through the common room and out of the inn's door. She ignored the innkeeper's shout of surprise as the sha oozed its way through the inn, leaving behind a foul-smelling trail of slime.

Just as Weipon was reaching the base of the stairs leading to the inn, the sha lashed out, catching her leg and dropping her to her knees. Even with that small touch, she felt an overwhelming grief, and tears sprang unbidden to her eyes. Gasping, she regained her footing and ran to join Ken-Ken, who was watching this extremely large sha with apprehension.

Acting quickly Hadakha pinned it in place with grasping thorns, summoned from the ground, and Weipon flicked a bolt of lightning at it, hoping to shock it. Ken-Ken darted in below its questing arms to attack from the rear. With Hadakha's providing cover with bolts of energy, Weipon faced the sha head-on, pummeling at its putrid flesh and trying to ignore the all-consuming sadness it forced upon her.

Distantly, Weipon could hear Ken-Ken openly sobbing.

"Why sha gotta make Ken-Ken so sad? Now we all outta funny hozen masks; how Ken-Ken gonna laugh again?"

Weipon choked out a laugh, feeling an almost hysterical grin spread across her face even as her eyes streamed with tears. She felt the featherlight, warm touch of Hadakha's healing magic repairing a wound she hadn't even noticed, knitting the flesh on her arm back together neatly. Her legs felt unsteady, almost unable to hold her under the weight of the despair.

There was the sudden pop of splitting wood, and then Weipon found herself joined by three strange treelike creatures. They tore into the sha, grunting aggressively even as the sha's corrosive flesh burned and warped their seeking fists. 

"Get out of there!" Hadakha called, and Weipon was only too happy to obey. She stumbled away, trying to shake off the sha's effects, and resorted to kicking balls of energy at the shrieking creature. Ken-Ken, having no other ranged attacks, was throwing nearby rocks.

Hadakha's minions were consumed by the sha one by one, but at long last, it gave its dying shriek and burbled into the ground, creating a steaming, bubbling puddle that all were hesitant to step in until it subsided. They paused, catching their breath, until Weipon struggled to her feet and limped purposefully towards the inn. 

"We have to see what happened to Akabeko."

16 November 2013

#IntPiPoMo Dominance Offensive quest conclusion

13 Oh hey guys cool party you got going on this doesn't look ominous at all 
14 Hey there, guy! This tauren sure is glad to see you!
17 Good job little guy! You're gonna be a great leader. 
18 ...did you just
19 ANDUIN?!?!?!?!

13 November 2013

#IntPiPoMo Dominance Offensive quests

7 First up, sneaking into Darnassafrass to steal back the Divine Bell
8 Heeeeeey night elves
9 Then it was off to Dalaran, where I got only bad news
10 Time for a big battle...I was hoping Jaina would show up at some point, though
11 I probably should have been more concerned when I was asked to jump off the side of Dalaran, but...eh
12 Hnnnggg This guy is really growing on me. Did you see he flipped a BENCH?!

10 November 2013

Blizzcon and the #RiseofAggra

As it turns out, being unemployed gives one plenty of time to do things during the day, so I found myself in an ideal position to watch the Blizzcon livestream via the virtual ticket. Unlike the other cons I've been to (Dragon*Con and Geek Girl Con), this was more about major announcements than discussion or Q&A panels, so there was a lot less panelist dialogue and plenty of presentation show-and-tell.

Not that I'm complaining. I wanted all of the juicy deets, and I was not disappointed. The announcement about Warlords of Draenor doesn't fill me with the same awe and excitement that Pandaria did, but I know that I look forward to playing it anyway. The panels at Blizzcon were really fun to watch, and I was interested in lots of the new changes they proposed. Even better, with a short Q&A session at the end of each panel, players could ask immediate questions about the news, or bring older content questions for even more exciting feedback.

Delightfully, I saw at least two guys ask specifically about female characters and their place in the narrative. High five, players who like their stories varied and their women present! And to their credit, the developers had clearly made an effort to get some more women into stories that sometimes take a turn towards sausagefest. For instance, in the cinematic teaser, we saw several female characters, and after showing a selection of updated male-only character models and sending Twitter into a frenzy, we suddenly found ourselves looking at the female dwarf and gnome models. There's even rumored to be a draenei Joan-of-Arc esque character, which just makes me want to level a draenei EVEN MORE. The movie panel confessed that the writers were called upon to expand their cast of characters beyond "young white guys." Change is happening! Minds are expanding!

However, one question and snappy comeback again reminded me that there is still so much to be done. Specifically asked about Aggra's role in the upcoming expansion, we were informed that the journey to Draenor was "more of a boys' trip." (Considering how many lady-identified players, or even female toons, will be making the trip...lolwut) This irritated a lot of players, especially ones who were disappointed that after her fantastic entry into the lore, she was suddenly relegated to Green Jesus' Grumpy Bossy Dream Girl. The response further removed her from a storyline that, based on her actual upbringing and wisdom, she should blend right in with, all on account of her now having a child (well, and having served her narrative purpose, it seems).

Well, that's kind of bullshit. If anything, Aggra would be very interested in and not at all out of place going to Draenor and encountering the pre-Horde orcs. I'm also not sure she would appreciate the insinuation that the baby is exclusively her business to deal with. (Maybe Alexstrasza could come back and gently cup, uh, "Thrall's Balls" and remind him of "the new generations he bore.") To be told that the female characters we already know and love - and we do love them, because when you have so few you must cling to what there is - will be set aside while the other long-running male characters forge ahead, it grates.

It's important to note that this isn't really about Aggra the individual character, but rather how, under what circumstances, and with what purpose, are non-player female characters allowed to participate in the narrative. Although there is a new lady draenei crusader, when we look at the Warlords of Draenor site, the background art is all male. Ogres are coming back, but have still seen neither hide nor hair of their women. The lineup of "legends" you can read about on the website features 10 characters, all male. Sure, many of these guys are already preexisting characters, so rather than go back in time and genderswap these established characters (unless you wanna maybe work in a trans* character? I'M NOT SAYING I'M JUST SAYING), the best option from here on out would be to endeavor to create a robust selection of female characters to prove that in the World of Warcraft, beings are judged on their merit and not the contents of their pants. Continue to develop the storylines of the female NPCs we already have, and continue to add more. Ensure that several (SEVERAL! I do not want one token girl) female characters make their way into the core characters that are consistently caught up in the center of the current expansion's plot. Force it. I'm serious! Use your writing skills and make it work.

That's what we did! Join us!

07 November 2013

#IntPiPoMo is here again!

I may have mentioned that Dah and I are hoping to do a bit more writing this November, but I'm afraid my schedule is not going to permit me to tackle something as intense as NaNoWriMo. Still, be on the lookout for more fic posts! We're hoping to finally bust out of the Sadness Forever that is Zhu's Watch and finally get into the rest of the Pandaria story.

1 Just kidding. I'm afraid it's all sadness, all the time in this fanfiction.
2 I'm still working on my quests so the plot can advance! Drink in my shirtless companion!
There is another way to get out 50,000 words, and that is through International Picture Posting Month, originally started by Angelya and this year spearheaded by Jojo of Admiring Azeroth. The premise is simple: if a picture is worth a thousand words, then 50 pictures (or in our case, screenshots) are surely worth 50,000 of them!

Sadly, with my new econo-lappy (names changed to protect those involved) I feel a lot less excited about taking screenshots, both because they don't look that great and also because taking them sometimes sends the graphics into a shame spiral requiring several minutes to recover from.

3 Look at that spectacular view distance. LOOK AT IT.

Still, I do have some news that I am happy to share! The other night, as I was moping around, extremely disappointed that I had NOT KNOWN that the Marionette pet had become permanent (spoiler alert: I didn't get one this year and they are being sold for like 800g WTF GUYS), and my very first GM whispered me. Yes, that's right, when Aka was but a wee calf still learning the ways of teh durids, a classmate invited me to her guild. When I moved abroad, I had to leave them behind in order to switch servers, and the guild eventually disbanded as many of the raiders left to do other things.

WELL they are back in business, and it just so happens that they do not have many raiding druids. Perhaps the sweetest thing he said to me, after I had disclosed that I had almost no experience raiding this xpac, was that he knows I'm a good player and could easily be caught up. Ahh, my bolstered ego.

omg. much heartwarming. very feels.
Sadly, I'm not financially ready to server transfer yet, so I started a bank toon to get into the guild and check out the atmosphere. As much as I love the new pandaren starting zone, I decided to go with a goblin because they can be guilded right from the beginning, and who doesn't appreciate their undeniable sass?

4 Running through the forest, feeling so FREE-HEE-hee
5 I will never get over how colorful and comedic this starting zone is. Not to mention the music is fantastic!
6 "All you have to do is climb on top of that huge pile of explosives" WHAT'S THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN